Stumbling finish dents Clarke’s chances at Senior PGA

Ronan MacNamara

Darren Clarke (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Darren Clarke’s chances of lifting the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship tonight are all but over after a poor finish to his third round at Harbour Shores.

Clarke carded three bogeys on his back nine to shoot a round of 71 to remain on two-under-par, eight shots off the lead.

The 2011 Open champion was making a charge on Saturday as he responded to an early bogey with four birdies before the turn to get to five-under-par, but a costly finish looks to have left him with too much to do.

Greg Chalmers and Ernie Els lead the way on ten-under while overnight leader Richard Bland is one shot behind alongside Chris Di Marco.

Chalmers reeled off five birdies in a row in his round of 66 while Els birdied the last for a 69.

“Got out of the gate with some good iron shots. Really controlled the trajectory well into the wind. Even though I didn’t make the putts, I had about a 10-footer for birdie on 2, the par-3, which was a great shot with a 7-iron,” explained Chalmers.

“Missed about a three- or four-footer for birdie on 3.

“Hit a good shot on the par-3 4th. Hit it ten feet above the hole and made that. That kind of opened things up a little bit.

“And then hit a lot of high quality iron shots. Probably the highlight when I birdied 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 was the seventh hole I hit a 5-iron from about 180 yards into the wind to about four feet.

“So that gives me a lot of confidence when I start to see that kind of ball control. And then it was a little scratchy on the back nine. Not super comfortable with my driver today, but I was very comfortable with every other area of my game. So if I can just get that squared away for tomorrow, see if we can get out there and compete.

“Looks pretty bunched up at the moment, so should be an exciting day hopefully.”

Els admits he hasn’t had his A game but hopes to find it for what looks like a bunched Sunday shootout.

“I haven’t really fired on all my cylinders. I’ve been missing a couple either in the putting or driving or something, you know.

“I’m trying to put all the pieces together. I didn’t have a great time, you know, from 45 to 50, you know, playing on the regular TOUR, so to kind of piece it back together has taken a bit longer.

“I’ve played really decent golf on the Champions Tour but haven’t had the wins that I’ve been aiming for.”

Pádraig Harrington is one-under-par after a round of 70.

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